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8 Ways to Help Manage Your Pain in the Hospital

  • Describe your pain. Tell your care team when you are in pain. Let them know if it's getting better, staying the same, or getting worse. Is the pain dull, sharp, aching, shooting, or burning? Try to be as specific as you can. The more they know, the more your care team can help.

  • Know your options. Ask about options for treating your pain. Your doctor can tell you what treatment he or she recommends. You may get intravenous (IV) medicines, use a medicine pump, or take pills. You may also want to try non-medical options or over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen. If your pain medicine doesn't seem to help, let your doctor know that too.

  • Speak up about side effects. Do you feel sick to your stomach? Are you constipated? Does your head feel foggy? You may be able to try different pain control options if you have side effects.

  • Report your pain as soon as you can. Let your care team know about pain before it gets severe. It can be easier to control pain if your doctor knows about it before it gets worse.

  • Monitor your pain. Is the pain constant, or does it come and go? What causes you to feel more pain? You may be asked to rate your pain on a pain scale. Or maybe you will describe your pain using a series of drawings of faces, from happy to sad.

  • Move if you can (and your doctor says it's okay). Try walking, after you can get out of bed and move around. Walking and other light exercise can increase blood flow and help with the side effects of pain medicine. But make sure to get help walking if you need it or if your hospital requires it.

  • Relax as much as you can. Stress can make your pain worse. Try relaxation methods like deep breathing or meditation. Ask a member of your care team for support with these methods.

  • Share your concerns about opioids. Tell your doctor if you are concerned about opioid misuse or have any kind of substance use disorder.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.